One of the benefits of blogging has been meeting writers from all over the world and getting to know about their work. One of these blogger-writers is Roy McCarthy, who pops over to The Misfortune of Knowing from his home in Jersey, Channel Islands* to share his perspective on a range of topics, including whether an ebook is ever worth $17.99.
Recently, I was delighted to learn that Roy’s novel, Barry, is available on Amazon and not priced at $17.99 for the ebook.
This novel features the Lane family, including Barry, who is facing a somewhat early mid-life crisis as he approaches his 40th birthday: he’s an overweight former runner who is financially insecure and disconnected from his lovely wife of 10 years. We follow the Lanes’ journey, as Barry and his wife Lara struggle to reduce the impact of their diverging interests on their relationship and on their children. The novel then goes from England, where the Lanes live, to Ireland, the scene of a crime that ultimately touches the lives of the Lanes and other characters we meet through them. The connections between some of these subplots remain loose, with Barry becoming less important than the title of the book would suggest, but I cared about all of the characters and wanted to see how each one of them fared in the end. I appreciated that Roy managed to infuse this novel with humor, no small feat when addressing such sobering themes as mid-life crisis, discrimination, and murder.
Roy’s use of British slang was a particularly interesting aspect of reading this novel, reminding me of the saying that England and the United States are “two countries divided by a common language,” which is a quote or misquote attributed to either Oscar Wilde or George Bernard Shaw. There are many versions of English, variations from country to country and within countries. In the past, my only exposure to some of the British terms in the novel, such as this word for cigarette, would have been through travel, visitors, television, and the occasional book that somehow made it onto my local bookstore shelf without being scrubbed of its colloquial flavor. The Internet has exposed me to the whole wide world in a more direct and interactive way, allowing me to converse with bloggers from different backgrounds and read their books. We may continue to speak variations of the same language, but we’re not “divided” at all.
By the way, speaking of regional variations of English, there’s a recent article in The Atlantic Cities about the decline of the Philly accent. Water is “wooder” around here, but who knows for how much longer! For the record, I don’t have a Philly accent (at least not a very noticeable one). My parents aren’t from here originally, and they are the ones who have had the strongest influence on my speech patterns.
Here’s Jane’s review of Barry on Robby Robin’s Journey.
*Not to be confused with New Jersey, my neighboring state.